I remember when the song “Hey Nineteen” was the “new” Steely Dan. Which is funny, because it’s a song about feeling your age. It’s about a guy who’s with a much younger woman who can’t relate to the things he thinks are cool, who doesn’t get his pop culture references. “That’s ‘Retha Franklin / She don’t remember the Queen of Soul / It’s hard times befallen the sole survivors / She thinks I’m crazy, but I’m just growing old.”
Donald Fagen was 32 years old at the time. Which, admittedly, is old if you’re dating a nineteen-year-old. But as we enter 2019, I just turned 49 - this is my 50th year. My father died at age 49 + 31 days, so this is a big one for me.
Apparently the name has been given to a restaurant in Torrance, California...
There are a good many Steely Dan songs that deal with time. Take “Reeling in the Years”: “Your everlasting summer, you can see it fading fast / So you grab a piece of something that you think is gonna last / Well you wouldn’t even know a diamond if you held it in your hand / The things you are precious I can’t understand.” Or the much later song “What a Shame about Me”: “I’m still working on that novel, but I’m just about to quit / ‘Cause I’m worrying about the future now, or maybe this is it / It’s not all that I thought it would be / What a shame about me.”
I didn’t intend this to be a meditation on Steely Dan lyrics, it was just supposed to be a clever title. But I guess I am feeling the passage of time (I must be!). A couple of years I wrote a song called “First Day of the Rest of My Life,” which contains some of my favorite lines that I’ve written: “I’m in line, the coffee shop / I guess I always knew this day would come / It’s not that I got old / It’s that the crowd got young.”
...And (of course) a Steely Dan tribute band.
As I start my 50th year, I’m glad to say my thoughts about it are mostly positive, thankful for what the past 49 have given me. A 27-years-so-far marriage to an awesome, beautiful person; a brilliant daughter who age-wise is somewhere between “don’t remember the Queen of Soul” and “just growing old”; some really good friends; relationships with my siblings that keep growing closer; having come through a terrible depression and out the other side (2017 was NOT good) – just to name a few things.
And there are things I want to do this year with music. I’m planning to record and release a for-real EP (possibly LP), play plenty of shows at venues new and familiar, write new songs (I’m partway through one now), stretch myself both in my writing and playing, and make some new musical friends. And I hope to see you this year.